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South African Tourism has used the 2017 INDABA as a platform to launch ‘I Do Tourism’ (IDT),  an initiative that seeks to remind South Africans of the importance of the tourism industry and the role they can play as advocates for South Africa and for tourism.

While attending the INDABA, Ghanaian media  and communication practitioner, Francis Doku (who is known for his analytical reviews in the Graphic Showbiz, as well as radio and TV shows such as The Pundit) has  been selling Ghana to participants in his own way. On Tuesday, Francis wore a colorful attire showcasing Ghana’s colours, which caught the attention of many at the Durban International Convention Centre. Wherever he went, people would say “I love your shirt” and he would as “It is from Ghana”. Perhaps the most memorable moment was when Francis got up to ask a question at the media conversation moderated by popular South African radio host, Andile Khumalo. His shirt caught the attention of of Andile, who requested to have it after the event. After the panelists had answered Francis’ question, Andile gave more spotlight to him, asking that Francis tells the gathering about Ghana and how Ghanaians see South Africa. Needless to say, Francis did a fantastic job! After the interactions, Andile insisted Francis was included in the group photo which was meant for his panelists. [caption id="attachment_108030" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Francis Doku with Andile and his panelists which include SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona Francis Doku with Andile Khumalo and his panelists which include SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona[/caption]

The purpose of the ‘I Do Tourism’ campaign, according to SA Tourism CEO, Sisa Ntshona, is to show the economic and social value of tourism in South Africa. “Tourism has a ripple effect,” Ntshona notes. “Each direct permanent tourism job opportunity that is created can have multiple spin-offs for transport, agriculture and other sectors.

I Do Tourism will bring this message to the attention of the South African public by reminding them of tourism’s impact on the economy. The campaign will also showcase members of the industry, and provide a space for them to share their stories. However, it is not only potential domestic tourists (and tourism advocates) who will be inspired by the campaign. SA Tourism is also aiming to motivate industry members to keep up their good work, and to remind government and other stakeholders of the importance of supporting the industry.

This is crucial, because although tourism contributes 3% to the nation’s economy and has created around 500 000 jobs, the majority of South Africans remain unaware of how their lives are affected when international travellers decide to visit the country; or even how their own holiday may help to better the lives of other South Africans. In fact, for many South Africans, tourism remains inaccessible. It remains something that is “for other people” and therefore has little bearing on their day-to-day lives.

“This is precisely the attitude we hope to change through I Do Tourism,” Ntshona explains. We aim to remind South Africans that tourism is everyone’s business because all South Africans benefit through and from tourism. Tourism adds value to the lives of all South Africans in a range of ways. As South Africans we all have something to gain from the growth and development of our tourism industry that is why our involvement in rallying behind tourism is vitally important. The continued success of tourism benefits us all.

Linked to this, the campaign draws attention to the fact that the impact of tourism is not industry-specific. Almost every sector within the South African economy is positively affected when people travel, from agriculture (which is required to increase output in order to feed visitors) to transport (as visitors need a means of getting around the country). Finally, we need to emphasise that, this being the case, tourism is integral to the growth and development of the country. It is therefore the duty of every South African to do what they can to support tourism. By doing so, they are contributing to the country’s economy.

“Ultimately, I Do Tourism seeks to make South Africans want to get behind tourism by seizing the economic opportunities within the tourism industry or by simply playing their part by making visitors feel welcome and providing assistance where necessary, whether that’s by giving directions or recommending a local attraction. If tourism wins, we all win,” Ntshona concludes.